A Catholic Perspective on Essential Oils (A Skeptic Confesses)

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The first time I heard a friend talking about essential oils I confess that I pretty much tuned her out. She might as well have told me that she was using crystals to heal her broken aura while burning sage smudge sticks for the shaman. My head nodded politely but I was probably thinking about dinner... or wallpaper... or something.

My dear cherished friend... I am very sorry.

Up to that point, my experience with "natural" healing came primarily from my familiarity with New Age enthusiasts who made up the majority of the stereotypical alternative medicine crowd that I knew. And when I walked away from that environment to embrace my Catholic faith, I walked away from everything that I associated with them. Take your patchouli incense and yoga and go find your reincarnated Buddha... I want none of it!

I needed that distance at the time. I needed the clarity. But ultimately, I discovered that in multiple respects, I had thrown the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. 

Does that mean that I embrace all of the accessories of the New Age natural healing movement? No...

I'm saying that the natural world belonged to God first... And that I am seeing things rightly ordered for the first time. If something is good, true, and beautiful, it isn't freaky or nutty... It's wholesome and designed to support us in our vocation in the service of God.

Yes, I threw out the crystals, the spiritual yoga, and the Buddha. But there have been a few things that I have reclaimed as a Christ-follower, understanding with a clearer vision that their goodness is a gift. 

One of those gifts is essential oils.


I am a skeptic. A questioner. I also have baggage that exacerbates that tendency when it comes to the healing arts. So coming to terms with essential oils has been a mountain climb. Here is what finally convinced me...


We know experientially that the natural world provides real solutions to illness and disease. We love the smells of nature and buy the products that feature them. We walk in beautiful places because we instinctively know that it is good for mind, body, and soul. We breathe it in, feel it on our skin, and bring it into our homes. We slather stuff all over our bodies until we smell like walking orchards and flower gardens.

Whole industries have grown out of our desire to be smelly like things that grow from the earth and to heal our bodies with the same. We crave it. We literally salivate over the smell of cookies. We boil cinnamon and cloves to feel festive and happy. 

What we also know is that the data supports our intuition...

Oregano, for example, has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties which can be demonstrated in a lab. We know also from clinical studies that frankincense oil has the ability to penetrate the blood/brain barrier and has a supportive impact on cellular health. Orange oil has anti-inflammatory properties and acts as a kind of anti-depressant by stimulating the senses. What we forget, however, is that these benefits aren't restricted to a scientific lab... but available to anyone with access to these potent plant compounds.


Pure essential oils are simply distilled plant compounds; potent, concentrated, and straight from God's creation. Their molecular structure allows them unique access to our bodies at a cellular level. There's nothing freaky, nutty, or unexpected about that. God's intelligence and benevolence is made manifest throughout all of creation. 


For those who have followed my journey through sickness and health, you know how seriously I have had to take this discussion. Out of real necessity, I have looked beyond traditional medicine for help and found it through nutrition, movement, and environmental changes. One of those changes has been the use of essential oils. 

Remember... I'm a skeptic. I don't throw plant compounds on my body or into my environment without tons of research and when I use them, I use with care. But I can't deny it...

My body responds to essential oils. 

God is good. He loves us. He provides for us. He gave us amazing, beautiful bodies, the materials of the earth to serve those bodies, and the intelligence to use them. That applies to natural as well as traditional medicine. They both have a place. 

(Even patchouli has a place, by the way. But if you're ever tempted to buy it for me... just... don't. My sensory memory will throw an ugly fit.)


The natural world belongs to God. He is master of all creation and just because non-believers use a plant or move their bodies in a non-sacred way, does not make them master over those things.

Catholicism, more than any other religion, recognizes the beautiful integration of mind, body, and soul. We are charged with the care of our bodies and the earth and it is entirely consistent with who we are as Christians to recognize the gifts inherent in the created world. 

The Church herself uses oils. At the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, her bishops bless them for use throughout the year. They fill our sensory memories, carry symbolic significance, and are used as sacramentals. After our babies are baptized, we breathe in the balsam that was touched to them and regret that we ever have to wash it away! Frankincense has long been used in liturgical celebrations and was even given to Our Blessed Lord as an earthly gift, and was considered at the time to be a medicinal treasure.

We do not worship the created over the Creator... but neither can we wholly remove the gift from the Giver. 


Essential oils are potent. I would never advise using them without proper knowledge and care. It's not complicated but does take a certain amount of awareness. Like any tool, they can be misused. I dilute my oils so that they are safe enough even for the kids in my family. I research and keep charts on hand to make sure that I'm using each unique oil in the proper way.  

I was probably more surprised than anyone when my interest led me to earn my certification as an aromatherapist. And what I found through that training is what I had already learned through my own experience: that essential oils are an affordable, safe, and effective health care option.


... you don't have to use essential oils to be a whole and healthy Catholic person. They are simply another tool in the wellness tool box. Your use or non-use doesn't divide us. Using them doesn't put you in a particular camp of health nuts or crunchy Catholics. Nor does not using them make you less a good steward of your body. But...

It is good to know that there is nothing inconsistent about natural health options and a strong life of faith. God's creation is magnificent. Thanks be to God!


Two reasons... and I'm going to be completely transparent...

  1. I can't NOT share. Just like with the rest of my health journey, I feel compelled to reach out to others with my story of renewal and healing. It drives me past my shallow concern over what people will think. But I will say it a million times more if it reaches just one person:

    When I was 35, I sincerely thought I was going to be in a wheelchair by the time I was 40. I was that sick. I am now 41 and nowhere near that wheelchair. Doctors couldn't help me. But I changed my diet, my lifestyle, my environment... and God gave me new life with which to serve.

    I want that for other people. So many are suffering. Maybe someone out there will benefit from my story.

  2. I did a lot of research before choosing a company. And truthfully, I left one popular essential oil company because I was not happy with the integrity of the leadership or the quality of the oils. It was uncomfortable. But my first priority is to my God, my vocation, my family, my health... not to a company or to my friends. Since I have to purchase from somewhere, I still had to find a source... and I did choose one that seemed more in line with my priorities than the others. I have decided that I can stand behind these essential oils enough to become a Wellness Advocate with doTERRA. That means that I get to bless my family by doing what I would already be doing: Sharing wellness.

So many of us are sick, hurting, exhausted, seeking joy amidst the physical struggle, and having a hard time staying afloat. Essential oils are not a magic cure... but they can be another means of supporting our amazing bodies. God is good.


If you are interested in learning more, just contact me HERE or start at the link below... "Why Essential Oils?" 

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Ashcraft Creative {Expressing Faith Through Leather}

There are few things more satisfying than seeing a creative work come to fruition under my hands. It isn't always the finest work of art, but I have poured something of myself into that thing and it exists because I thought of it and shaped it. That's a sweet feeling. 

That handcrafted joy is kicked up a notch even when I see the work of another person's hands because there is the added delight of mystery and wonder. It reminds me that I am not you and that you have a unique genius given by our Lord that I can't ever fully understand, see, or embrace. 

That handcrafted pretty you just made for me? That's a tiny glimpse. I am in awe of your Maker and His handiwork. And if you sell what you make, I'll probably want to buy one of everything that you have! Or two. 

I was recently introduced to to Christine from Ashcraft Creations and BOOM! that feeling hit me hard.  I saw one of her leatherwork pieces on Instagram and immediately clicked over to her Etsy shop. One of everything, please! 

But I knew I didn't need that many leather beauties (although you never know...) and thought for a while (2 minutes) about what I could use. It didn't take long before I contacted Christine with a custom request...

Can you make an essential oil holder keychain? With the Sacred Heart imprinted on it? 

She said yes and my amazing oil keychain arrived on my doorstep a short time later. It holds a 15 ml bottle and I love it. It's just a "thing" but is also the unique creative impression onto my life of a sister in Christ. Plus it's just really cool and it holds essential oils which are such an important part of my life. 

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I've got Frankincense pictured in the photos but the most common single bottle I carry is my allergy blend of lemon, peppermint, lavender, and fractionated coconut oil. I ditched my OTC meds a long time ago and rely on this beautiful combo. (An added benefit of leather is that it acts as a diffuser if you place oil drops on the absorbent side.)

My kids might accuse me of being a bit dramatic about a little thing but I have to say...

To slow down and notice the fingerprints of God all over the pretty and useful items in our lives is to express a kind of gratitude. And expressing that gratitude advertises itself to the soul. It says...

I see what you did there, God. That was so cool. Thank you.

So today, I thank God for the gift of Christine at Ashcroft Creative and for her willingness to share her talent with the world. Please visit her shop and use this 15% off code (ends Friday, October 27th) to pick up a few early Christmas presents. You still have time to place a custom order! 

15% off code: 15ESSENTIALMOTHER


For more information on how to purchase and use therapeutic grade essential oils, go HERE. I have been so blessed by having plant-based medicine in my life!

How Stitch Fix is Healing the Marketplace

{This post contains affiliate links. More info Here.} 

Stitch Fix is an online styling service that delivers a personalized shopping experience where a personal stylist hand picks pieces to fit your tastes, needs and budget—and mails them directly to your door. 

I first turned to Stitch Fix to help me solve the problem of my outdated blue jeans. I stayed with Stitch Fix because they presented me with a valuable solution, a human touchpoint in the marketplace, and service that money can't buy.

As consumers, we are accustomed to being sold to, not cared for. So when one company breaks that mold, we notice... we soften... we hope a little more and trust a little more. We tell our friends about that one grocery bagger who remembers our name and the dentist who wished us a happy birthday. It is a reminder that it is the soul, not the body, that needs the greatest care and has the deepest void to fill. 

The story I'm going to share here is one of business leadership going the extra mile. You could say that it was strategic and helped them retain a customer... and you would be right. You could also say that only an authentic servant leader understands how to heal and serve someone they've never met... and you would be right. 

Perhaps it is the genius of womanhood that trickles down from the founder and touches everything. Regardless, here is my story...


After 15 years of actively seeking a diagnosis for my chronic illness, I finally have an answer. It came as a surprise after a lengthy period of "remission" during which I did everything right to heal my broken body. I dramatically changed my diet, lifestyle, and chemically toxic environment and put the unnamed beast into a cage. Until... it broke free.

I'm not really sure what triggered this flare. Probably stress, a little slipping of the diet, hormonal changes... just a complicated soup of little triggers that pushed my body and immune system in hyperdrive. Regardless, the autoimmune animal was uncaged and I entered into one of the most physically and mentally difficult periods of my life.

Thank God for maturity. (There are a lot of great things about being 40.) I came through okay. But it was intense and surprised me with a measure of grief that was wholly unanticipated. 

Months before this, I had placed my first order with Stitch Fix because I was a little desperate to update my one pair of floppy ill-fitting jeans. Walmart and Salvation Army had failed me and with 8 kids, I'm not inclined to leave the house to shop! I knew I would have to spend a little money to get a good fitting pair and so I decided to let a stylist at Stitch Fix be my muse.

My box came and it was absolutely perfect. I kept everything (and yes, my husband approved the splurge) but knew that I had to be more cautious with future spending. So I set the next shipment date to the furthest possible option and marked it in my planner, intending to cancel before the time came.

Well, the time did come... but it came in the middle of my health crisis during which my planner lay useless and untouched. My face was so swollen that I was unrecognizable. The butterfly rash on my cheeks had scabbed over. My body was on fire and I could barely eat. I spent days just crying, researching, and struggling with the difficulties of the flare, loss, and complications which accompanied the diagnosis. 

I always thought I would be relieved when diagnosis finally came. Instead, I was struck with a heavy grief. I didn't want THAT diagnosis. I wanted one I could wholly control. Where I didn't lose anything else. Something not as painful and as ugly. 

I am feeling well again now and reigning in the triggers in my lifestyle, but being in the middle of that flare was an intense suffering that I was not prepared for. 


In the middle of that struggle, my second Stitch Fix box showed up on my doorstep and I gasped in an "oops!" kind of way. I had forgotten to cancel! Well, I can send it all back easily enough, I thought. But first... I'll just try it all on. And I did.

I took off my old t-shirt from college and my worn athletic shorts, and tried on the bounty that my stylist had picked out just for me. She had looked at my Pinterest boards and read my preferences. She understood. And as the pretty fabrics and prints touched my skin, I started to cry. 

Big fat tears fell down my ugly swollen cheeks as I admired those beautiful clothes. There was a lovely necklace, too... and for the first time in a long time, I felt soft and pretty.

Maybe it won't surprise the reader to know that I kept everything. 

Then I wrote a little note to my stylist. I told her that even though I know it is her job to select nice clothes for customers, that her talent and time mean something greater than just "a job." I told her how her work had touched my life. And that night, I thanked God for women in the workplace... who love others with their intuitive genius of service.

Perhaps you're thinking that I'm a big bowl of melodramatic emotional mush. Perhaps you're right. But in those moments when we are isolated with our suffering and pain, the details of life are large... and have the power to inhibit or expand healing.

After I wrote that note, I put away my new clothes, set my next Stitch Fix date for the farthest possible shipment, marked it on my calendar, and let the moment fall into the abyss of my occupied mind.

Until a couple weeks later...

There was a knock at my front door and a box containing the most beautiful lilies and irises from Benchmark Bouquets was placed on my stoop. I looked for the card to see which of my incredible and loving family members or friends sent this to me...

But it wasn't someone who loves me or even knows me. It was from the team at Stitch Fix.

The wording wasn't intimate but anyone who has suffered understands... someone knew that a broken heart needs flowers and made the decision to send them.

The pic below isn't the best quality since it was snapped quickly with the camera on an aging iPad; and my face is hidden intentionally since I wasn't ready to display the outward expression of autoimmune disease (I will share more at some point) and tears. But it was taken shortly after I pulled those flowers out of their box. They reminded me of the sweet dress that my stylist had chosen for me and I wanted to remember and to share. 

What is love? Is it just an emotion? If so, then Stitch Fix people don't really love me. They don't even know me. But if love is what I believe it is - the action of helping a person to achieve their greatest good - then I don't know... maybe there is love in the marketplace after all.

Father Robert Sirico once said:

"That's what the vocation of business is: to look for opportunities to serve."

To the entire Stitch Fix team... Keep serving well with the best of who you are and you will change the marketplace. You will have set the bar high and have, in this one moment, not only touched my life, but taught me how to be a better businesswoman. Never change.

To my readers who would love to give Stitch Fix a try...  I highly recommend it. It is customizable with the benefit of having a real person working with you. Returns and exchanges are free and easy (I returned one thing for a different size and it was a piece of cake).

And for the healing mother who really doesn't have the time or energy to go looking to splurge for something new and pretty, it is honestly a real pleasure and valuable resource. That's really what this blog is about... Finding healing and joy in the midst of the storm... and providing resources for helping us attain that goal.

Do you know a woman (or man) who could use a Stitch Fix gift card pick-me-up? This would be such a unique and special gift for a pregnant or postpartum mom feeling a bit blah. Or someone who has been feeling unwell. Stitch Fix Gift Card

I'm giving thanks today for Stitch Fix in the online marketplace... where it is still possible to buy something pretty with the personal service of a real human being. 

Lularoe Madison Skirt Review (The LulaRose Garden)

It's no secret that I love Lularoe clothing...

I love the versatile and happy pieces. 
I love the  flexible sizing.
I love that I feel like I'm wearing my PJ's all the time in the soft fabrics.
I love that LuLaRoe is direct marketing (because I love direct marketing!) and that I get to support family business while I shop.
I love that each item fits so creatively into my wardrobe. 

And today, I particularly love this Madison skirt that came to me from Susana at the LulaRose Garden. I wanted to try a Madison and she wanted to see how it would fit into my existing wardrobe. Twist my arm!

I'm a casual gal most of the time but I also enjoy feeling pretty. This skirt dresses up or down quickly and easily and comfortably...

First I pulled out a dressier tee and a pair of heels to go with my Madison. Add a simple necklace and I'm ready for church, a business meeting, or a party. The fabric of this skirt is so smooth and soft that I couldn't help a giving it a twirl...

I'm about 5'6" and 115 lbs and this Madison is an XS. It's a perfect fit at my natural waist. For a size chart, check out Susana's Facebook shop page


I switched out the dressy tee with a white burnout tee and added a favorite lace headband and  sandals. Casual comfort-loving girl meets Lularoe. When a skirt is more comfy than a pair of jean shorts, we have a sweet outfit for running to the store, for a play date, or to daily Mass. 

Why yes, I do walk on logs just for the fun of it... 


And since I live in the Northeast, what was formerly an 80-degree day is now a 60-degree evening, I had to give the Madison a go in my Fall favorites: denim and short boots. 

The versatility of the LuLaRoe pieces is fantastic and I'm not even going to tell you how many I own. My favorites are the Maxi, the Azure, and now... the Madison. These soft skirts are the feminine equivalent to the yoga pant. 

Oh... did I mention the pockets yet? I didn't? There are POCKETS! Two of them. This is truly the perfect sweet and functional mom skirt. And it comes in MANY different colors and sizes. 

Shopping for LuLaRoe is unique and super fun. If you've never shopped on Facebook, it's very simple. Simply join the LuLaRose Garden shop page, be the first to comment "sold" on any item you want to buy, and fill out the linked purchase form. 

Susana Starbuck is the sweetest gal and shopping with her is a joy. You don't have to buy anything if you join her page... just window shop to your heart's content and when that one special piece comes along, you'll be ready to go. 

The LuLaRose Garden with Susana Starbuck

Faithful. Joyful. Purposeful. {CWBN Ohio Conference Recap}

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When I volunteered to host the Ohio region Catholic Women Blogging Network conference, I was confident about that decision... for about 10 minutes. After that, I pressed upon the goodwill of the talented and dynamic Brooke Taylor for help. Good thing she said said yes! Because of that yes, we had the extreme pleasure of hosting about 20 amazing women for what was truly a grace-filled weekend. 

It's hard to know where to begin because there's so much... too much... much more than a blog post. So I'm just going to dump my heart, soul, and photo stash here to give you a peek at what happens when the unequipped, the tired, the overcommitted, and the unconfident say yes anyway. 


                                                                          Photo credit: Jayme Orn Photography

As ladies thanked us for stepping forward to put the event together, I found myself repeatedly laughing at the irony. If they hadn't registered, there would be no conference. For some reason, they felt the nudge to trust that something great could happen even if it was a challenge to attend. Every person there made it happen. I just volunteered to stress my husband out more than some.


For a few of us, the weekend began in the confines of the beautiful and peaceful Sancta Clara Monastery, where the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration live in Canton, Ohio. Saint Clare... the patroness of media. Sancta Clara Monastery... the convent where Mother Angelica, the feisty contemplative woman who transformed Catholic media with her tenacity, faith, and holy boldness, took her solemn vows. (If you haven't yet read her bio written by Raymond Arroyo... Do it! Excellent book.) The significance of the place with respect to our position as bloggers was not lost on us as we entered the doors.


The sisters are cloistered but had a powerful expression of hospitality. We prayed the rosary with them in their chapel, separated by their cloistered wall but united by Jesus' Presence in the Holy Eucharist, exposed between us for all to see. Then we entered their day room for food and fellowship.

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As different as our vocations seem to be from the cloistered religious, we discovered that, as women, we are not so different. When we found that we had forgotten plates on which to serve the food, Brooke went to the sisters to ask if there was anything that we could use. Sister happily led her into a pantry-type area... and apologized for the disorder. Please ignore the mess! She said. Brooke noted that it was just like any busy mom with kids; different vocation, same desires and stumbling blocks! And don't we always find that our authentic Christ sisters extend us all the grace and mercy that we need? {All gallery pics in this post can be expanded by clicking}

I brought three of my girls with me for the trip. Partially to babysit (boy did they ever!) and also to be near me. These things that we do as moms... sometimes we need to step out alone... but sometimes we need to be mentoring and walking together. So, they came with me and we stayed in the amazing dorm apartments at Walsh University with the wonderful Donna Bishop from What If God Says No. Aside from the pleasant company and comfortable quarters, it was a very short and pleasant walk to the Chapel building in the morning. 


The best laid plans... are subject to change without notice according to the purpose of the Holy Spirit. Our itinerary was set but God had other plans and consequently, what at first seemed like a minor crisis, turned into a perfect schedule. It is, after all, what we had asked for. Hadn't we prayed for God to take the day and make it His own? Indeed, He did! 

The first part of the day was filled with introductions, breakfast, and the joyful noise of the incessant chatter of happy women...


So... about Taylor. I'm still speechless. You really had to be there to understand what she brought to our weekend. She came to be with us and bless us and then had to leave quickly to travel for a family emergency. But she brought the Spirit with her.... and we all worshipped together in the glorious morning. Because isn't that what it's all about? At the end of the day, it's all about Him and so we gave Him our beginnings.

Without having warmed up, Taylor stood with her guitar and worshipped with passionate, talented, and youthful beauty. I had heard her on YouTube. (I also know and love her family and know what a treasure their ministry and lifework has been to the Ohio region.) But it's not the same as being together in person.
Her CD "Be Glorified" is coming out in a week. Please buy it (to keep and gift)... you will not be sorry! 



After we finally got the ladies to stop chatting (a difficult task, indeed!), we moved to the conference room to get down to business.

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Full disclosure: I had invited a big beautiful name to come and speak on this topic; a woman known for her holy boldness in the public sphere, grace under worldly pressure, and pursuit of Truth and Beauty. She was eager to come but I asked too late (two weeks is cutting it a bit short, no?) and so... I had to give the talk. It's slightly more challenging to prepare for a talk than I remember, namely because... well... 7 beautiful kids. But I could get used to it again quickly; I honestly enjoy public speaking. It's that introvert quirk that makes a podium less intimidating than a dinner table.

My presentation was about what it means to be a great blogger in the truest sense. About the obligation of bloggers to take their role as leaders seriously - to own it and refine it. To not be afraid to allow Jesus to take you where you might be afraid or feel unequipped to go. Ultimately, we are called to RISE... not on our own power, but Christ's alone. My swag swap contribution (more on that later - pic below) reflected this message that has become so important in my life.

Photo credit and gratitude to Colleen Kessler. I am so glad that I made a deliberate decision to brush my hair that day. It did occur to me that someone at a blog conference might have a camera. The yoga pants stayed home, too. Speaking of which...


Brooke understands evangelization. After spending 10 years on Christian radio, serving as mother of 5 (biological and adoptive), blogging at The Sacred Sink,  founding Mom Squad, and speaking professionally, her expertise is phenomenal; she demonstrated it during her presentation! Her talk really brought home what it means to be Christ to the culture and how we, as bloggers, are conduits of God's grace. I loved her sense of humor and her talent for proclaiming the feminine genius that women possess abundantly. 

Among Brooke's many ministry outreaches is her new family prayer CD which she brought to the conference and is available HERE.  You can also listen to her on Good Things Radio with Jennifer Willits (from The Catholic Next Door) who, incidentally, made all the attendees beautiful knotted rosaries.


Yes, Catholic blogger, you canearn money without losing your soul. Ellen Peppercorn from That Chic Mom knows firsthand and gave a phenomenal presentation on the basics of blog monetization. She is a professional blogger and uniquely qualified to address the issue... but she is also an incredible Catholic mom of 5 girls. I would be remiss if I failed to mention how adorable and stylish she is (even when she's going through a period of child-induced insomnia), which is likely why her blog is called That Chic Mom... because she totally is. You will want her great t-shirts, of course, and can find them in her Etsy shop, That Chic Mom Tees.

Ellen is an excellent speaker and told us how blogging allows her to stay at home with her girls and bless her family with opportunities they otherwise couldn't afford. What does it mean to successfully monetize a blog? According to Ellen, whatever you want it to mean if your efforts at monetizing serve your vocation and you are submitting your work to the Lord each day. "There were times when I worked hard for $25 and a box of Ritz because we needed to eat. Another time, I turned down an $800 opportunity because I could not stand behind the brand." She's the real deal.


After learning how to monetize without losing our souls, we learned from Colleen of Raising Lifelong Learners how to blog without losing our minds. In spite of her toddler-induced fatigue and claims to frequent wandering, Colleen nailed it with truth ("There is no such thing as balance") and love ("Sometimes God does give you more than you can handle... so that you will learn to always turn to Him"). 

She talked to us as sisters and gave vitamins to our souls as well as many practical tips for separating blog time from family time and prioritizing well. She is a teacher, homeschooler, published author,  professional speaker, and a cancer survivor who taught herself to blog professionally in order to afford to stay home with her kids. Now that's moxie! 

Biggest takeaway quote? "Make sure the balls you drop are not the ones that are going to get bruised."  Can I get an AMEN?


Because I wanted to send every attendee home with a stuffed goodie bag but didn't have the cash or sponsor savvy, I came up with an idea for optional swag swap. It turned out fantastic and I hope the other gals enjoyed their bags as much as I enjoyed mine! The idea was to bring something for each bag that somehow represents the attendee and/or her blog personality. And there were some very creative (and delicious) contributions. Our bags were indeed stuffed... almost as full as our hearts. (My 17-year old son would say that is typical "blog mom speak" sprinkled with extra cheeeeze and surrounded by floating happy hearts. To that, I just roll my eyes, cock my formerly-teenage head and say: As if I care.) Some items found in our bags...


(Photo credit for most of these goes to my oldest daughter.)

In between the music and talks, there was an abundance of talking, sharing, laughing, shopping, eating, baby squeezing, and picture taking. And I can't forget the babysitters. They rocked. Lovely young ladies who found the Walsh chapel the perfect place to work on their polyphony. 

At the close of the day, several of us shared a nice meal at the Maine Street Grille while other brave souls drove the hours back home to their people. I could have used an entire week with all these ladies... but I am grateful for the beginning. 

There's absolutely too much to post here. I've got to be content with breaking down different elements into future writing. But I want to finish by linking the blogs of all who attended and encouraging you to visit and like and share. There is so much goodness and joy and faith behind these digital pages and in the women who host them. I don't hesitate to recommend any of them. 

I need to give an important shout out to Carolyn Svellinger of Svellerella (another Ohio superstar) who donated the artwork for our logo. She was all set to attend and then they ended up closing on their first home with newborn and littles in tow. But that logo ended up being a very rich unifying visual part of the event. A great gift. 


Emily Buamgartner / It's the Baum / Fine Linen and Purple

Donna Bishop //  What If God Says No  //  Wonder Doubled   {Donna's recap post}

Theresa Blackstone //  Ordinary Lovely

Michele Faehnle //  Columbus Catholic Women

Emily Jaminet // Motherhood Matters

Colleen Kessler // Raising Lifelong Learners

Kiera Kurak // Contranaut Girl    {Kiera's Recap Post}

Elena LaVictoire // My Domestic Church

Melody Lyons // Blossoming Joy  {Recorded Talk}

Jayme Orn // Jayme Orn Photography

Ellen Peppercorn // That Chic Mom

Melanie Shaniuk // Much Madness    {Melanie's Recap Post}

Andrea Singarella // Velvet Strawberries

Carolyn Svellinger // Svellerella

Brooke Taylor // The Sacred Sink // Good Things Radio // Saint Gabriel Media {Brooke's Radio Recap}

Taylor Tripodi // The Unseen Certainty

Christine Woodruff // A Fly On Our {Chicken Coop} Wall

Lisa Burns // The Fish Mom Squad

THANK YOU! To everyone who cooperated with God's grace to make this event so fruitful. Commence immense gratitude dump...

I am so grateful to the good people at Walsh University for providing an absolutely perfect venue and breakfast. To all of our wonderful sponsors (last on the page but not least). To Brooke for saying yes and stretching far more than she originally intended to (please tell your husband and children that I owe them a solid novena or two in gratitude). To Andrea for the beautiful decorating and so many big and little things (including the jewelry that I bought and my daughter immediately "borrowed"). To Donna Bishop for going all out to make beautiful programs and for being such a great dorm buddy (and fueling my family with morning protein). To Carolyn Svellinger for our logo and support (we missed you so much, lady, but are thrilled that your life is crazy big and beautiful right now!). To Jayme Orn for lending her photography skills and contagious smile (I hope you got your camera equipment out of the impound lot!). To Theresa for driving from New York to bless us with great conversation in spite of your official introvert status (maybe you are really an undiagnosed extrovert?). Christine from Illinois (did you beat your Grandma at euchre?) who did not bring any pigs but we forgive her. To Elena for being such a rockstar mentor and having the holy boldness to get kicked off those crazy forums (your gentle mannerisms are only a cover for your tenacity!). To Ellen for putting together the raffle and wearing those great (free?) shoes all day long (my feet were alternately cringing and wildly jealous). To Taylor for fitting us in even when we were not the biggest priority (and for literally bringing me to tears during worship). To Kiera for getting the food order together and bringing the most adorable play buddy for my girls (so glad there was no ER visit). To Emily (the Baum) for your joyful countenance and great conversation (I'd love to take a poll to find out how many of your delish cupcakes were eaten while driving on the interstate). To Michele and Emily J. for your boundless and youthful enthusiasm and sense of  humor (and the Buckeyes... those went over well with my people). To Melanie for bringing the star of the event and letting people borrow her for a squeeze (and for what it's worth, I'm a spider... can we still be friends?). To Lisa Burns who was such a source of life and light on Friday and who I already missed on Saturday (we simply must meet again.)

That's all. But that's not all. Let the friendships continue and flourish! RISE!

CWBN Ohio Conference Sponsors:

Walsh University
Jayme Orn Photography
That Chic Mom Tees
Cedar Point
Bryan Kemper / Stand True Ministries
TAN Books / St. Benedict Press
Tiny Saints
Columbus Catholic Women's Conference
Big White Farm House
Clarey Clay Works
Stephanie Weinert / Little Bit of Paradise